Monday, August 21, 2006

GLOBAL WARMING POLICIES

Just as many of the models that are predicated on anthropogenic global warming are built on poor assumptions, many of the policies proposed to mitigate the effects of global warming are also based on bad assumptions.

It is assumed that the benefits we will reap from ‘preventing’ global warming will outweigh the costs of the polices themselves. If it were possible to stop global warming via human oriented policies this might be true in theory. Because human influence on the climate is likely trivial, policies that try to subvert human behavior to prevent global warming are not likely to be successful. Once this is realized, the costs to economic growth and human welfare really stand out.

According to a researcher at Wesleyan University, stabilizing emissions at 1990 levels could reduce US per capital growth by 5% per year. ( an entry on the importance of economic growth soon to follow). The infrastructure problems that currently are causing high gas prices would only be exasperated by piling on more regulations that can only restrict supply and exasperate the problem. While research and development of alternative energy sources may be a better alternative, technology development and adoption is made possible in conjunction with investment and economic growth. Policies that impede this in the name of preventing global warming will certainly minimize private sector incentives in this area despite any funding from government.

The best solution for dealing with climate change is to develop resilient economies that are able to invest in the technology necessary to adapt to ever chaining resource constraints.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

GLOBAL WARMING: MODELING FARCE

Many of the projections that the media, rock stars, and grant greedy academics are using to build a ‘consensus’ on human influenced (lets call it anthropogenic global warming) global warming are based on mathematical models. As a student of economics I have a great appreciation of mathematical models. They are very compact and precise ways to express ideas with logical consistency. However, they are not necessarily scientific, and like any logical argument, they are only as good as their assumptions.

Many of the models that ‘predict’ or ‘explain’ anthropogenic global warming include parameters that are essentially assumptions about which we have little firm data to be certain about. These include the effects of cloud formations, precipitation, the role of oceans, and the sun.

Inherent in almost all dialogue and reporting about what these models imply is the assumption that human behavior is a large contributor to global warming. Although the climate has been warming over the last century, most of the warming occurred before 1940 (when temperatures in the arctic were actually just as warm or warmer than they are today). This was in the very early stages of modern industrialization and hence human production of greenhouse gases and CO2 on a large scale. This assumption about human influence is not supported by any empirical evidence, despite its widespread use as anecdotal support for what is implied by mathematical models.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

GLOBAL WARMING LEGENDS

With the sweltering heat this summer, while many don’t take it as direct evidence of human influence, it at least brings the topic of global warming to the forefront of their minds. I don’t know how many times I have seen good morning America do a story on recent weather events and link them to global warming caused by human progress. The media, MTV, and academics all love to share the stories and legends of global warming.

Legend 1: The warming earth is causing the polar ice caps to melt. – Real data stands behind the fact that the arctic temperature was just as warm in the 1940’s as it is today and possibly warmer. A recent issue of Science indicated that in some areas ice sheets are actually growing.

Legend 2: The recent increase in major hurricanes has resulted from global warming. –The truth is while hurricane activity may be picking up; it is due to the ordinary multidecadel time cycles that govern sea surface temperature and hurricane intensity.

Global mean surface temperatures have increased by about 1 degree over the last century, however satellite data indicate that there has been no increase of atmospheric temperature since 1979. While the green house effect is an accepted phenomenon, and while levels of green house gases have increased over the last 100 years, there is no way to prove that human activity is causing global warming. Making this assumption is pretty bold, but the increased speculation about hurricanes and melting ice caps really pushes credulity to the limit.